Devolution, Brexit, and the Sewel Convention


Professor Gordon Anthony presents his new paper considering the role that the Sewel Convention plays under the UK constitution and its relevance to Brexit.

The paper discusses how the convention can be understood in terms of competing views about sovereignty and explains how the process of legislating for EU withdrawal is giving rise to (what may become) a constitutional crisis. The Sewel Convention entails that the UK Parliament “will not normally legislate” for devolved matters without the consent of the devolved institutions. However, tensions are becoming apparent as the EU (Withdrawal) Bill progresses through the UK Parliament. This paper examines these tensions and the significance of the recent devolved Withdrawal Bills in Scotland and Wales, and the challenge they present for the UK government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill.


This publication presents the personal views of the author and not those of The Constitution Society, which publishes it as a contribution to debate on this important subject.